Emergencies preparedness, response

Improvements to Sierra Leone’s disease early-warning system

MOH, WHO and UNICEF rapid response team inspecting Kania CHC, Sierra Leone
WHO/S. Gborie

February 2016 -- In the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak, the government of Sierra Leone is expanding its Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response early warning system to prevent, detect, and respond to potential outbreaks of 26 priority diseases. WHO is assisting in the expansion of this system by developing capacity within government laboratories and providing equipment capable of handling high-risk samples.

How the Ebola outbreak and WHO's response unfolded

Ebola outbreak: WHO training in community care centre in Liberia
WHO/R. Sorensen

3 February 2016 -- WHO and partners are now in Phase 3 of the Ebola response, from August 2015 to mid-year 2016. The overarching goal is to interrupt all remaining chains of Ebola transmission, and to respond to the consequences of residual risks. To do this, several objectives have been outlined and we are working towards enhancing the rapid identification of all cases and contacts, improving Ebola survivor engagement and support, among others.

Clinical care for survivors of Ebola virus disease

Ebola survivor, Liberia
WHO/R. Sorensen

22 January 2016 -- Today, there are over 10 000 survivors of Ebola virus disease. A number of medical problems have been reported in survivors, including mental health issues. Ebola virus may persist in some body fluids, including semen. Ebola survivors need comprehensive support for the medical and psychosocial challenges they face and also to minimize the risk of continued Ebola virus transmission. WHO has developed this document to guide health services on how to provide quality care to survivors of Ebola virus disease.

News and top stories

Feature: Ebola Then and Now

Chris Dye, Director, Strategy

"At that point, even one more month of epidemic growth would have generated thousands of cases per week. Luckily it didn’t happen – the opening of laboratories and treatment centres, the widespread adoption of safe burial practices, and the changing behaviour of affected populations all helped to reverse the epidemic."

Our vision

An integrated global alert and response system for epidemics and other public health emergencies based on strong national public health systems and capacity and an effective international system for coordinated response.

Core functions

  • Support Member States for the implementation of national capacities for epidemic preparedness and response in the context of the IHR(2005), including laboratory capacities and early warning alert and response systems;
  • Support national and international training programmes for epidemic preparedness and response;
  • Coordinate and support Member States for pandemic and seasonal influenza preparedness and response;
  • Develop standardized approaches for readiness and response to major epidemic-prone diseases (e.g. meningitis, yellow fever, plague);
  • Strengthen biosafety, biosecurity and readiness for outbreaks of dangerous and emerging pathogens outbreaks (e.g. SARS, viral haemorrhagic fevers); Maintain and further develop a global operational platform to support outbreak response and support regional offices in implementation at regional level.

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